MISSION: To advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society.
WHAT: The goal of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) is to launch a fully functioning national scale ecosystem services market conceived and designed to sell both carbon and water quality and quantity credits for the agriculture sector by 2022.
WHY: Healthy soils are paramount to the future of the agriculture industry, maintaining ecosystem function and sustaining plant communities. Unfortunately, some management practices have led to physical soil loss via erosion and large declines in soil organic matter. It has been estimated that nearly 40% of the earth’s arable lands have been degraded at some level by anthropogenic activities due to soil erosion, extensive soil cultivation, and over-grazing. In addition to soil health, agricultural systems also create critical ecological and natural resource impacts that benefit society, such as improved water quality, water use conservation, biodiversity, and pollinator and wildlife habitat. With approximately 70% of U.S. land in private ownership, America’s farmers and ranchers are key to creating solutions to address our nation’s soil health, natural resource and ecosystem services challenges.
HOW: The Ecosystem Services Market (ESM) program will enable farmers and ranchers to voluntarily adjust crop and livestock production systems in ways that increase soil carbon sequestration and retention, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality, conserve water use, and benefit many additional ecosystem service outcomes. ESMC quantifies changes to ecosystem services annually and over time in a science-based, standards-based, verified and certified program. The quantified changes in ecosystem services are and monetized and sold as ecosystem services credits. The farmers and ranchers who create the ecosystem services are paid for those credits in a national ecosystem services market in which buyers purchase credits to reduce their environmental and supply chain impacts.
WHO: ESMC is a collaboration of members from across the entire agricultural supply chain and value chain working together to ensure that the program scales successfully to meet farmer and rancher needs as well as corporate, NGO, consumer and societal needs. ESMC’s research arm, the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium – or ESMRC — is working collaboratively to invest in identified research, development, demonstration, and economic gaps to overcome past and current market-based challenges in lead-up to the 2022 ESMC market launch.